Dreams, jackrabbits, male/female figures -these and more- are the stuff of Lania D’Agostino’s artwork. Resin, plaster, oils, wood and metal are just a few materials that D’Agostino employs masterfully in her art which include drawings, paintings, and sculpture. She makes life cast figures using a multi-step casting process she developed. Because the first step in the process begins with an actual person, she says, “it captures all the wonderful variations of what people call faults in the skin.”
D’Agostino makes a distinction between the life cast figures she creates for her business where she’s following someone else’s design, and the figures she creates for her art. Many business projects include figures for museums. She has also made figures for international traveling displays such as the Star Wars Exhibit for Lucas Films.
Born and raised in Bridgeman, Michigan, D’Agostino spent a lot of time drawing as a child and received praise for her talent. While a teenager, she was inspired by sculptor George Segal who cast life-size figures in plaster bandages. She moved to Baltimore in 1982 and graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1985 with a fine art degree in sculpture.
Though the materials used to create her art vary, she says theres is always a spiritual component, whether she’s painting a childlike figure with large expressive eyes from her series, Childhood Dreams, Memories and Deja Vu, or making life cast figures of a transgendered people for her work titled, Gender Identity and Body Image Awareness Project, or working on other projects.
D’Agostino, who never had a painting class, says, “I never think about what I’m going to paint before I paint. I start drawing first.” Referring to her Dream series, she says, “I could see they all related to childhood. You don’t know if it’s an actual memory, dream or deja-vu, but they have the sense of familiarity.”
She says another painting series, Jackrabbit, which she started two years ago, “came at a time when I was exploring my own gender identity. The jackrabbit could express emotion in a figure without relating directly to gender.”
D’Agostino’s describes her work as personal, universal and spiritual. “My work is an exploration of myself. I find it’s very personal in a lot of ways. I find that it’s very global in a way that a lot of people relate to it. It’s emotional work. I think people can feel the emotion that comes from it…I’m a spiritual artist and it doesn’t matter which medium I have in front of me.”